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Delhiwale: What keeps the rickshaw puller going

Deepak Kumar, a rickshaw puller tells us how he manages to pedal through the day.

delhi Updated: Sep 14, 2017 15:45 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Deepak Kumar has been a rickshaw puller for 15 years.
Deepak Kumar has been a rickshaw puller for 15 years.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

We can’t cycle more than 30 minutes on an exercise bike, but rickshaw pullers somehow manage constant pedalling day in, day out.

What’s their secret?

We had a word with Deepak Kumar, who’s been at it for around 15 years.

“The legs hurt a lot when you take up the job but, really, the pain goes away after your body has adjusted,” he explains.

There’s more to it than that, the rickshaw puller says, as we chat outside Vidhan Sabha Metro station in north Delhi. “You’ve got to constantly take care of your legs!” says Mr Kumar. He is careful about footwear. He finds that plain flip-flops provide infinitely more ventilation than shoes — particularly important on sweltering days when rickshaw pullers are in high demand. But Mr Kumar’s greatest trick to pamper the legs and keep them in top working condition is self-massage.

After he returns home, he massages his feet with sarson ka tel (mustard oil). Fortunately, the stuff doesn’t cost very much; after all, most of his earnings have to be sent to his family back in Bihar.

This kind of massage is practised by virtually every rickshaw puller in Delhi, Mr Kumar reveals. “When you do it, the tiredness is released from your toes….You actually feel it escaping your body, and soon you fall into a deep sleep.”